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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2010 Jun;36(6):731-41. doi: 10.1177/0146167210367786. Epub 2010 May 5.

When in Rome ... Learn why the Romans do what they do: how multicultural learning experiences facilitate creativity.

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INSEAD, Boulevard de Constance, 77305 Fontainebleau, France.


Research suggests that living in and adapting to foreign cultures facilitates creativity. The current research investigated whether one aspect of the adaptation process-multicultural learning-is a critical component of increased creativity. Experiments 1-3 found that recalling a multicultural learning experience: (a) facilitates idea flexibility (e.g., the ability to solve problems in multiple ways), (b) increases awareness of underlying connections and associations, and (c) helps overcome functional fixedness. Importantly, Experiments 2 and 3 specifically demonstrated that functional learning in a multicultural context (i.e., learning about the underlying meaning or function of behaviors in that context) is particularly important for facilitating creativity. Results showed that creativity was enhanced only when participants recalled a functional multicultural learning experience and only when participants had previously lived abroad. Overall, multicultural learning appears to be an important mechanism by which foreign living experiences lead to creative enhancement.

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